It’s just over four years to the day since we last spoke to affable guitarist Bill Steer; Then, his band Carcass were just gearing up for an Australian tour… Of course, for reasons we don’t need to exhume here that didn’t happen, so when the band announced they were heading Down Under for a run of shows this year we thought we’d catch up with the great man again. And who better than the inestimable Carrie Gibson to take charge of the intercontinental phone lines?

A smashing 2024 lies ahead for the band, and you’re still on the promotional tour for Torn Arteries, how has touring the album been? “Really good so far. As you pointed out,in a sense we’ve only really just started. It was a little bit slow, getting started initially due to the pandemic situation. The album had been finished however once we saw what was happening with Covid – the album had to be shelved. Funnily enough though, when we finally could start playing the album live, it almost felt old to us [Laughs] but it was still new to everyone else. We are doing a whole bunch of areas that we haven’t done in a while, Australia and New Zealand are the first two”. And we thank you for that – generally we are the last on a touring cycle, which isn’t a bad thing – the bands are so well seasoned from months of touring., Everything has been trialled and tested, everyone is in their groove, so there are perks on being the last country in a touring cycle. “Really good point actually – yes, usually when a band starts a touring cycle, the band can be quite rusty, well at least we would be. Six months down the line, you’re seeing a completely different monster”.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, however, Carcass are approaching forty years and I say this as I am also approaching the same age. Are we sharing the same feelings about these milestones Bill? [Laughs] “Oh god. Wow. Even though its not that far away for us, I’m always the last one to know about the anniversary of whatever record it might be from our past, but I guess on social media that stuff pops up a lot… and people often feel obliged to inform me of it [Laughs] which is nice but I don’t usually pay a huge amount of attention to the numbers. But I am very aware of how long it has been [Laughs]. These young kids who tried to make a demo tape in a tiny studio in the North West of England; that feels very far away right now”.

In those moments, when you were all seventeen – what were your thoughts or anticipations for the future? “It was a very narrow, limited world then – you make a demo, you get into the tape trading game and that’s a far as you would have looked, that was the cornerstone of what we were doing. Although, one thing I do still have in common with a seventeen year old kid is that I still have an inability to look ahead, it just doesn’t come naturally to me”.

As a musician, you have been doing this for a verrrrrry long time. Reflecting back on that seventeen year old kid – what have you learnt about your musically abilities, your creativity – take us through how this has evolved for you, personally, over the course of your career. “Its still evolving for sure. I feel like I’ll never get to the bottom of what it’s all about. Every time you record in the studio, there are lessons. Small or enormous, but you think to yourself ‘I’m going to remember this, I’ll approach it differently next time’ and of course the next time you do this – but then there are a whole set of new issues and you have to tackle those. I was chatting about this, just the other day – its like an itch you’ll never quite scratch. And this is an enjoyable thing actually. Its just a challenge, trying to get something that you’re moderately happy with but if you can walk away with something that is fairly representative of where you are right now, that’s the thrill of it really. It’s fairly obvious, but i’d say more than ever I’ve just learnt the importance of crafting what you do. It’s extremely bewildering for a young person, learning an instrument and then going online. I mean there is so much information online, its absolutely fantastic in a way, and that type of information when I was a young musician was like gold dust! You’d pick up bits and pieces from older musicians, maybe someone had a book somewhere… and looking back, there were advantages to this, I mean, I’m the kind of person who gets distracted easily with too many options, so starting out today, I’d just get dizzy. Also, it is very daunting to see some of the insane technical proficiencies of some of the players out there. It could be quite easy to doubt yourself. At some stage along the way you have to figure out what works for you, what feels right for you – developing your own style. Half of your style, is what you don’t play. I mean there are so many areas of guitar playing I just can’t cover, so I don’t go near them”.

Still, you have your working formula – Carcass are hailed as pioneers of two genres to put it simply. So, tell me, how does a pioneer continue to evolve? “I think everyone can, everyone does, even if its not in the way people like. Remember back when there was that syndrome of ‘selling out’? An album kind of fringed on the commercial side. Even in those cases, maybe that artist was being true to their vision, because perhaps they were super keen to reach more people, and that was in fact the honest decision. Its all about what motivates you. There are so many different reasons to be involved with music – some people, bands generally want to be popular. This does not apply to us, and if it does, I feel we have stuffed up slightly” [Laughs]. What is the perfect environment to write material for Carcass? “In my living room. My flat is tiny but this is the space. My ideal environment. In our formative years it was the attic in my parents house. Honestly though, its not any particular environment that has inspiration striking. No perfect view or temperature. You have to stick to your instrument, you just have to, keep at it, keep engaging with it”.

See Carcass At The Following Venues Next Month:
02/04/24 – Perth, Magnet House
04/04/24 – Adelaide, The Gov
05/04/24 – Melbourne, Northcote Theatre SOLD OUT
06/04/24 – Sydney, Manning Bar
07/04/24 – Brisbane, Princess Theatre
10/04/24 – Wellington, Meow
11/04/24 – Christchurch, Loons
12/04/24 – Auckland, Galatos

Steer and Walker captured by Federico Buonanno.